What is onboarding?
Employee onboarding is introducing new employees to an organization through a series of developmental and training opportunities. A good onboarding program starts when candidates accept the employment offer. It sets the stage for new hires from day one, clearly defining what the employee can expect from their new employer and what the employer expects from its employees. Setting these clear expectations from the start is a critical step for any business if they wish to attract and retain top talent.
A good onboarding process should immerse new employees in the company’s culture, allowing them to adjust to their new job’s social and performance expectations.
Why is Onboarding Important?
Statistics show that as few as 46% of companies have established somewhat successful onboarding programs, and 22% have no formal onboarding process. Replacing employees vs. retaining them is costly. Consider the additional costs a business incurs with ongoing recruiting efforts, employee replacement, and an unskilled workforce. Mismanaged expectations can lead to stress and burnout amongst even the best employees. And a poor employee experience will eventually lead to reduced productivity and a poor company culture with high turnover rates.
An organization’s success and well-being must develop and maintain a formal employee onboarding process. Let’s look at what goes into creating a great onboarding experience and how to implement one representing your company’s goals and mission.
Creating an Onboarding Program
The best onboarding programs take time, careful consideration, and planning. Depending on the size of your business, your onboarding program will most likely include some, if not all, of the following:
- Job specific training
- Culture acclimation
- Check-ins and Follow-ups
To create a custom-made onboarding process, it is a best practice for the HR manager or the manager responsible for hiring to create an onboarding checklist of how they can help new hires successfully navigate the first few days, weeks, and months with their new organization. Some things included on this checklist should consist of but are not limited to:
- Sending a welcome email or welcome packet to the new employee before their first day.
- Setting up the new employees’ workstations with the appropriate tools to perform their duties.
- Sending a new-hire announcement to existing employees.
- Consider pairing new hires with an onboarding buddy or mentor.
- Recognize the necessary paperwork your new hire will need to complete, and have it prepared for their first day.
- Schedule regular check-in meetings at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days.
It’s easy to confuse onboarding with orientation, and many people do. While orientation is essential in the onboarding process, orientation will typically occur during the first few days or first weeks of employment. A good onboarding process can range anywhere from 90 days to twelve months. Onboarding is intended to be a much longer and more engaging process that allows new hires time to learn and grow into their new role while building strong and trusting relationships with their organization and co-workers.
Orientation should consist of the paperwork and training associated with employment, such as:
- Reviewing the employee handbook, health and safety procedures, company culture, and mission.
- Completing state and federal tax documents.
- Presenting, reviewing, and finalizing any insurance and benefits paperwork (if applicable).
- Training employees on specific company software or procedures.
- Setting up employee workstations.
- Getting the lay of the land and touring the entire facility.
- Meeting existing team members and pairing up with an onboarding buddy.
Including a thorough orientation process in your onboarding checklist is a best practice that is sure to create a more satisfying employee experience.
Typically prepared for your onboarding process consists of the time frame just before the new hire starts their first days with the company and continues through to the first few months into their employment. Most of which is covered through employee orientation. Its importance cannot be overstated. Have you prepared to integrate a new employee into your organization successfully? Being prepared means that you’ve done all the work, taken all the steps, and have the courage to take ownership of the candidate’s onboarding experience.
An employee’s engagement extends far beyond the onboarding experience. It is one of the core principles of an organization’s success. Employee engagement is all about employees’ relationships with each other, their managers/supervisors, other organizational stakeholders, and even your customer base. When your organization fosters an environment that focuses on emotional wellness, you cultivate a happier and more productive team with increased loyalty, less drama, and a greater chance for profitability. Providing a genuinely engaging workplace will ensure that not only do your new hires feel welcome and comfortable, but it also enhances the experience of existing employees.
During the integration phase of a new hires’ onboarding process, continued training and development of their day-to-day functions within the company should be achieved through mentorship from other employees. This phase has no set time limit, as every employee and organization has unique dynamics.
A thirty-day follow-up is a great way to understand how a new team member performs, integrates, and feels about their first month in their new role. Some companies will check in with employees again at 60 and 90 days, while others may wait six months to a year. Following up with new employees at all of those milestones is highly encouraged. Additionally, a best practice for effective managers is conducting weekly one-on-one meetings with every direct report to ensure they feel heard, valued, and empowered. The added benefit of these weekly meetings is relationship building, coaching opportunities, employee engagement, profitability, and increased retention, just to name a few.
The First Day
There are a lot of mixed emotions for a person on the first day of a new job. Feelings of fear and anxiety can quickly spread to stress, poor work performance, and attendance issues if left unchecked. Unfortunately, so many employers need to pay more attention to the importance of the onboarding process. New hires should feel free from being fed to the wolves. Instead, provide them with a warm welcome on their first day. Be organized by having all of the necessary documents ready ahead of time. Give them their work/training schedule for the week or month. Provide a designated private area where the HR manager or direct supervisor can review paperwork and complete it away from the daily hustle and bustle. Introduce them to their onboarding buddy and consider organizing a lunch or gathering to meet with coworkers in a more relaxed, social setting.
The First Few Months
Within the first few months of onboarding, managers should have followed up with their new hires at least three times. Each meeting should build upon the previous one to focus on the following areas of the onboarding process:
- Mentors and supervisors stay close to new employees to ensure they feel comfortable and welcome.
- Slowly and incrementally introduce more challenging work assignments.
- Weekly one on one meetings should now be established to review work performance and ensure new employees are integrating well.
- During monthly follow-up meetings, managers ask relevant questions to determine how the employee functions and how successful the onboarding process has been.
- HR manager or person handling payroll and benefits should ensure that new hires’ pay and benefits are properly set up and activated.
The First Year
New team members should be fully immersed in the company’s culture and workflow by now. They should be experiencing weekly one on one meetings with their direct supervisor and be encouraged to participate in more advanced training and development. The culmination of everyone’s hard work is reviewed during the employee’s annual performance evaluation. This should be a straightforward process free of surprises since regular one-on-ones occur. You will now know that you’re extra effort and forethought about your onboarding process has paid off when your employees are happy, engaged, and performing well.
New Employee Onboarding Tips & Tricks
- Be transparent about company policies affecting employees, such as vacation and sick leave, time off requests, and remote work policies.
- Be consistent. Same process every time for every employee.
- Set up a first-day welcome kit for new hires. Load it up with branded company swag, office supplies, and any valuable items or tools that make them feel right at home.
- Provide an itinerary or training for at least the first week.
- Send out an epic welcome email. Encourage existing employees to contribute and share their favorite reasons for working with your company.
- Provide a sign-off sheet or checklist of important goals or work-related tasks.
- Find out their work “love language”? Offer praise and recognition based on that language.
- Assign a mentor and set up meet and greets to allow new hires to build critical relationships.
Most importantly, foster an environment where new hires visualize future possibilities within your organization, understand what is expected of them in their new roles, and check in with them regularly. You’ll be so glad that you did.
Not sure how to create an effective onboarding process? Contact us to schedule a consultation today!